ROCK ISLAND ARSENAL, Ill. - A First Army civilian has been nominated for a national award in recognition of her work as a mentor of local youth.Tammy Vesey, a G3 Operations mobilization specialist, received a Jefferson Foundation Award at the local level during a banquet on March 9. That honor made her a finalist for the Jefferson Award at the national level, and she will be traveling to Washington, D.C., in June with other finalists.According to the Jefferson Foundation website, the award goes to "ordinary people who do extraordinary things without expectation of recognition. We honor outstanding Americans who are making a difference and inspiring others to act."Five years ago, Vesey started QC Women in Action, which aims to help teen girls transition to successful young women. The organization has helped more than 50 girls find scholarships, and this spring the first group of girls that QC Women in Action worked with will graduate from college. Vesey reports than one of those students has already received an additional scholarship for graduate school.Such rewards are the payoff for years of planning. "We do education seminars, we do ACT prep, we find scholarships for the young ladies, we host fund-raising events and educational trips every summer," Vesey said. "Our goal is to get young girls thinking about college and how they can be successful beyond high school."This requires continual effort. Vesey said she puts in at least 10 hours a week with QC Women in Action, but can be more depending on the needs of the mentored students. It has paid off in the form of scholarship money, appreciative youth, and an award that left her stunned."I was very surprised," Vesey said. "I was up against some really phenomenal people. I was just honored to be nominated. Finding out that I won, I was speechless."Vesey has been a Department of the Army civilian for six years and previously served in the Air Force. The military background helped to give her the vision and skills to begin and run a successful organization.
"When I was in the Air Force, my supervisor was a mentor to me, so it helped to shape me and taught me how to help young ladies," she said.A 1997 graduate of Rock Island High School, Vesey ran relays and hurdles, earning a track scholarship to Lewis University in Romeoville, Ill., and she also ran for Augustana College in Rock Island, Ill. As such, she knows the value of scholarships and she passes that onto teen girls and encourages them to be active in their communities.While the award and trip to the nation's capital are nice, those things were never her incentive. "I don't do it to be honored," Vesey said. "As long as I know I'm helping someone and we are helping our kids see life outside of the bubble they live in."